Archive for April, 2010

Growing Wild Mushrooms in your Garden – Winecaps Rule!

winecap mushroom stropharia rugosoannulata

Pioneer Winecap mushroom at lower left. They'll come up thickly in this area for the next 6 weeks or so - then keep coming sporadically through summer and fall, if conditions are right.

Winecaps (Stropharia rugosoannulata) are among the tastiest wild mushrooms: firm and meaty, with a taste of the nutty/smoky quality that makes porcini so special. They’re also large, easy to clean and almost as easy to grow as potatoes. Bill wrote a complete how-to last year.

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Cat Photography Rule # 32

retro table and chairs with black cat

Just because he looks great sitting on the breakfast table when you come around the corner in the morning does not mean a point-and-shoot can cope with a black cat in the bright sunshine.

Ramps – finding, picking, cooking (and planting!)

Not in the back yard, actually. They’re in the utility area behind the back yard, about 20 feet from the compost heap. The little patch is no more than 30 inches from the path, but it hid in plain sight until a couple of years ago, when Bill the forager added ramps to his must-find collection.

Each year he spends more time tracking them down and eating them up, and now he’s written a guest post guide to them. All I can say is buckle your reading glasses – major ramp treatise ahead.

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Extremely Easy Rhubarb and Cherry Crostata – a Genuine Recipe

Rhubarb and Black Cherry Crostata

“Genuine recipe” is because the chowder in the last post wasn’t exactly conventional in the instuction department. “Extremely Easy” is because I’m feeling a little guilty about the fabulous-but-you-do-need-a-stand-mixer Celebration Bread.

So. This free-form fruit and jam tart takes about 10 minutes to put together and is impossible to screw up. The crunchy crust is made in the processor, rolls like a dream and is child’s play to handle. The rustic look means it always looks great; and although the post title says “rhubarb cherry,” you can also make blueberry peach

or just about any other combo that takes your fancy.

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Chanterelle, Corn and Haddock Chowder with Crabmeat and Cream

Excellent for lunch when there is unexpected company.

For 4-6 servings:

Go down to the upright freezer, where “ready to eat,” items are stored. Extract:  the last qt. of Haddock, Corn and Crab Chowder with Chanterelles, 1 qt. Succotash (Black Mexican corn and Dr. Martin lima beans), 1 qt. of something labeled “Chicken and Corn stock, strong flavor, thin texture,” and 1 1/2 c. Chanterelle Cream Sauce.

Combine and heat. Decide more chanterelle is needed. Go back down to the mushroom section and get a little bag of Chanterelles in Butter. Add. Reheat. Serve topped with shredded lettuce and minced scallion.

In other words

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start your freezers!

Asparagus Tips – For Choosing, Storing, Preparing (and Growing)

Home grown asparagus can vary quite a bit in thickness, especially as the patch ages. Our patch (the source of these representative stalks) is 19 years old and about due for renewal.

Asparagus is not the first vegetable of spring. Dandelions are the first vegetable of spring (and ramps come next). But asparagus is in a class apart.

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Finding Black Morels – The Wild Mushroom Season Begins

This is the year of earliness – from the heat wave that hit us at the end of March (March!) to the apple blossoms opening at least two weeks ahead of schedule. I found the very first black morel on April 14.

Can you spot the morel in this picture?

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Eric’s Pet Plant: Weeping Willowleaf Pear (Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’)

Maybe it’s the Northeast’s amazingly early spring, bringing out blossoms not normally seen at this time of year. Or maybe it’s the effect of the new greenhouse, bringing up thoughts of new landscaping to go with. Or maybe Eric’s just beginning to have vacation on his mind. Whatever the reason, get ready to enjoy English gardens as well as weeping pears.

Weeping Pear, Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’

“Our little tree is four years old, planted at a foot tall and doing nicely,” he said about this specimen at Yale’s Marsh Gardens.

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Terrific Twitter Feed – JQA

Once more, a Founding Father proves unexpectedly durable. Eighteenth and nineteenth century diary entries were typically very short, and this has provided a handy hook for the Massachusetts Historical Society, which is now offering the daily tweets of John Quincy Adams.

Possibly an acquired taste, but I’m lovin’ it. You can sign up here.

Those Beautiful Purple Bells? Iochroma Cyanea

The recent post on building a home greenhouse included a snapshot of flowers therein, tastefully set off by beaucoup de snow outside. Most responders wanted to know what they were, but one reader not only knew, she went me far, far better in doing justice to Iochroma cyanea, a plant that as far as I know has no common name.

Iochroma cyanea by Bobbi Angell

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